In her memoir, Crystal Renn details her struggles as a young model in a constant battle between her ambition and her appetite.
But after years of fighting, Renn eventually embraced her body. Her struggle, she said, is one that reverberates across the country.
"I was hardly alone in my descent into weight obsession and madness," Renn writes. "Five to 10 million Americans have eating disorders. Even women without clinical disorders spend a heartbreaking amount of time obsessing about their weight, hating their bodies and thinking that if they were only thinner, their lives would be richer, fuller, happier."
Check out an excerpt of the book below and then head to the "GMA" Library for some more great reads.
This is a story about two pictures.
The first is a photograph of the supermodel Gisele. Taken by the photographer Steven Meisel, it appeared in Vogue in 2000. Gisele is in a clingy white gown, posing in a studio against a seamless gray backdrop. Her skin is golden and gleaming. Her hair is windblown, as if she's been surprised by a breeze from an open window just out of view. Her hands, her eyes, the curve of her back—everything is graceful and expressive. She's mesmerizing.
I was fourteen years old when I saw that picture. It was the first time I'd ever leafed through a copy of Vogue. I'd never cared about any fashion magazine; I'd looked at that one only because a man I'll call The Scout had handed me a copy. He was working for a major modeling agency—let's just call it The Agency—in New York. His job was to troll the back roads of America, visiting junior high schools and suburban malls, in a ceaseless quest for the next top model.
I had never met anyone like The Scout before. He was urbane and kind, smooth-talking yet sincere. I was dazzled by his shirt. Tailored to perfection, it was probably more expensive than my entire wardrobe. When he opened Vogue to Gisele's picture, he knew exactly what he was doing. He was planting a fantasy. In the few seconds it took me to absorb all of Gisele's beauty and allure, I'd constructed a new idea of female perfection. It was Gisele. That's when The Scout said, "This could be you."
And even though I was only fourteen and weighed sixty pounds more than Gisele and had all the sophistication of a girl from Clinton, Mississippi, population twenty-three thousand, I believed The Scout.
The second photograph is from 2007. It shows the naked back of a curvy woman, her dark hair curling into tendrils at the nape of her neck. Her body is half draped in rich red fabric. She's gazing off into the distance, lit from the side in a soft northern light. She looks like a Greek goddess or an Old Master painting—a Vermeer, a Titian.
There's an eye-catching weightiness to her. As she leans slightly to her right, two modest folds of flesh collect at her waist. (If you were a snarky sort, you might call this lush abundance "back fat.") The picture was taken by photographer Ruven Afanador for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It was a public service ad, designed to look timeless but also of the moment. The objective was to show beauty and strength, to offer hope of a healthy future for all women. It ran in every major women's magazine, from Vogue to O to Bon Appétit to Prevention. The woman in that photograph is me. "Hungry" is the story of how I got from the first photograph to the second.